Boss Page laments defensive errors and poor finishing after Cobblers suffer late agony

GALLING: Rob Page admitted it was 'a bitter pill to swallow' after Northampton's late defeat to Gillingham. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds

GALLING: Rob Page admitted it was 'a bitter pill to swallow' after Northampton's late defeat to Gillingham. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds

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Missed chances and defensive mistakes were the main source of frustration for Cobblers boss Rob Page after his side's late 2-1 defeat at Gillingham on Saturday.

After Max Ehmer had pegged back Northampton following John-Joe O'Toole's first-half, the game seemed set to end level, which would have fairly reflected a keenly-fought and evenly-matched contest.

But Jay Emmanuel-Thomas thought otherwise and had the final say when, in the second minute of stoppage-time, he wriggled free on the edge of the area before curling home a 20-yard effort that nestled into the bottom, securing a dramatic victory and denying Cobblers a precious point.

The manner of the defeat was as frustrating as anything, and not just because of the lateness of Gillingham's winner.

Prior to that, JJ Hooper struck the post when the visitors led 1-0, and it was Northampton who appeared to be ending the stronger of the two teams as two presentable chances went begging before Emmanuel-Thomas' goal.

"It's a hard one to take at the minute," admitted Page.

"We took the lead and then we hit the post just before half-time and I think if we'd have gone in a 2-0 it's a different game.

"They get an early goal in the second-half and we concede from a set-piece which is disappointing because we lost the first header and the lad misplaced his header and the centre-half anticipates it and it's in the back of the net.

"We got opportunities to clear our lines for their second goal and we don't and we get punished for it."

Those defensive lapses coupled with a lack of ruthlessness at the other end were the chief reasons behind this result and that came as much frustration to Page, who felt his side did enough to earn all three points, let alone one.

He added: "It's disappointing because we created enough chances to win the game today and I've just said to them in the dressing room - if we're going to have a go this season, games like that have to be a win.

"We finished the first-half really well and we should have made it 2-0 and be ruthless with our chances.

"If you do that, then we'll have a chance this season.

"It's a bitter pill to swallow. For their work-rate and the shift they put in, they didn't deserve to be on the losing team."